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Japanese take home WWII heroes from Guwahati war cemetery

Last updated on: January 18, 2012 18:49 IST

Japanese take home WWII heroes from Guwahati war cemetery

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K Anurag in Guwahati

For the first time a war cemetery in India is being dug up to exhume the bodies of soldiers who lost their lives in the Second World War. K Anurag reports from Guwahati.  

Japanese officials with the help of Guwahati city administration and Assam's forensic department have started exhuming eleven graves of Japanese soldiers who died in World War II. The soldiers have been buried in the war cemetery at Silphukhuri in the heart of the city. 

Three Japanese officials, including a technical expert, have started the process of exhuming the graves from the war cemetery, said a senior official of Kamrup Metropolitan district in Assam. The work has been undertaken with due permission from the government of India.

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Image: Graves of WWII soldiers being exhumed at Guwahati war cemetery


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"The Japanese government had approached the Centre to take home the mortal remains of their soldiers buried here," said an official.

The Japanese officials who were involved in the operation on Wednesday were Koju Matsubaysal, first secretary of Japanese embassy, Ken Miyashita, deputy director of foreign affairs, Japan (planning division of war victims' relief) and Massahiro Takeda, a technical expert.

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Image: A team of Indian and Japanese officials oversee the exhumation


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Japanese take home WWII heroes from Guwahati war cemetery

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An official from Assam forensic department and a senior official of the state archaeological department are helping the Japanese officials, who are supervising the operation at the site. All the expenditure related to the operation is being incurred by the Japanese government.

There are a total of nine World War II cemeteries in the country, out of which five are in north-east India -- two in Imphal, one in Kohima, one in Guwahati and one in Digboi in upper Assam. The other four burial grounds are in Delhi, Pune, Chennai and Kolkata.

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Image: An official photographs one the dug up graves


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All these cemeteries are maintained by the Commonwealth War Grave Commission, which has its headquarters in London. Kohima and Imphal were raging battlefields between the Allied Force and Japanese Army during World War II.

The regional manager (NE-India) of CWGC, Salew Pfotte, said that it was for the first time in the country that graves in a World War II cemetery was being dug up. He said that the war cemetery in Guwahati had 461 graves of soldiers from Commonwealth countries - 334 from United Kingdom, 143 from India, four from Canada, four from South Africa and one from New Zealand. There are 35 graves of soldiers from non-Commonwealth countries -- 11 from Japan and 24 from China.

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Image: A forensic expert examines the remains from one of the graves


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The graves of Japanese soldiers that are being dug up belong to -- as per the stone plaques attached -- Private Okamoto, Lance Corporal Miyata Kotsuo, Private Morata Doshu, Private Yamado Kesakti, Private Komatsutomoshige, Private Hachivets Uyoshi, Private Urata Yotaka, Private Ishiwara Hiroja, Private Shotasaburo, Private Ikdmiraisao and Private Kito Zwao.


Image: An official collects remains dug out from the Guwahati war cemetery


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